What is the Volvo C70?
The Volvo C70 is a rare beast, as it’s a four-seater coupé-cabrio that isn’t horribly disfigured. Indeed, the C70 is one of the more handsome cars in its segment, with its distinctively flared wings and discreetly sculpted sides. And while the original drop-top C70 had the torsional rigidity of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, this model (sold 2006-2013) is amply rigid, so with the roof down it doesn’t feel as though you’ve got flat tyres when you drive over uneven surfaces.
But while the C70 is very capable, knocking it into the shade is the Volkswagen Eos, which looks less distinctive, but is more refined; the Eos offers a better drive, while its interior is also better resolved. Even better is the Audi A5 Cabriolet, while the BMW 3-Series convertible is another strong candidate.
If you prefer the look of the C70, though, it’s best to avoid the petrol engines, despite their being cheaper than the diesels. Go instead for one of the frugal diesels hooked up to an automatic gearbox, to enjoy some top-down cruising. Bear in mind that CO2 emissions and fuel economy take a hit with the Geartronic auto; the dual-clutch Powershift gearbox fitted to the four-cylinder diesels from autumn 2008 is much more efficient.
Since its launch in 2006 the C70’s engine options and badging have been rather fluid. Initially there were 2.4 or turbocharged 2.5 five-cylinder petrol engines, or a 2.4 D5 diesel. Since then the range has also encompassed a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel; this would morph into a five-pot engine in 2010. By then the C70 had been facelifted (in July 2008), then in 2010 Volvo simplified its naming convention with the introduction of the D3 (150bhp 2.0-litre) and D4 (177bhp 2.0-litre) diesels along with the T5 (230bhp 2.5-litre) turbocharged petrol engines.
Trim levels stayed fairly consistent throughout, with S, Sport, SE and SE Lux all offered for most of the time. Even the S has alloy wheels, climate control, powered windows and a decent audio system; SE adds leather trim, upgraded hi-fi, bigger alloys and numerous other detail luxuries.
Although the C70 can accommodate four adults, those in the back won’t be happy if they’re large, and whoever gets to drive won’t be taking the long way home to savour that extra time behind the wheel. But C70 ownership tends to be fairly painless, and these are very safe and stylish cars that are also well equipped and comfortable. So while the C70 isn’t the best car in the segment, if you add value to the equation it suddenly starts to acquit itself admirably.
What to look out for when buying a used Volvo C70
Although that huge folding hard top is generally reliable, you can’t take it for granted. Poor fit, leaky seals and a temperamental folding mechanism can all strike, so check it all works smoothly, going up and down. The electrics can also go on the blink while some of the cabin trim isn’t proving to be as durable as Volvo would like. Also, while big wheels suit the C70 aesthetically, they hurt the ride, so they’re best avoided.
With 25-plus recalls under its belt, you could be forgiven for thinking that the C70 is the worst-developed car ever, but in many cases just a handful of cars were affected and in one case it was merely a question of an incorrect label being stuck on. However, other recalls encompassed dicky brakes, seatbelts and airbags, faulty transmissions plus various engine and steering maladies.
The one to buy
Volvo C70 D4 SE Lux
- 1984cc, 4-cylinder
- 177bhp @ 3500rpm
- 295 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 6-speed manual or auto
- 0-62mph in 9.8sec
- Top Speed:
- 47.9mpg combined
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4615mm, W 1836mm, H 1400mm
Volvo C70 rivals
Audi A5 convertible (click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
BMW 3-Series convertible (click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
Volkswagen Eos (click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)